We’ve combined forces with Fernwood Fitness to bring you Lift the Nation – a campaign to inspire women to start lifting weights. One of the questions we always receive around weight lifting is how much protein we really need to eat when we add weight training to our workouts. Melanie Katz from Fernwood Fitness dishes up the advice.
Lifting weights alone won’t help you build lean muscle mass. Not matter how heavy your bar is, if you’re not fuelling your body properly, your efforts on the gym floor will go unrewarded.
This is where protein comes into play. Proteins are made up of amino acids – the building blocks that form our muscles, tendons, ligaments, hormones, immune functions and even our brain matter.
When we lift weights, we create tiny tears in our muscle fibres. Our body responds by creating new muscle fibres to repair them, in turn creating more lean muscle mass. This means if we’re trying to build muscle without consuming enough protein to get the amino acids we need for our bodies to repair, we won’t see the results we’ve been working so hard for.
When we consume excess fats and carbohydrates, they’re stored in our cells as fat and glycogen so we can tap into them when we need extra energy. Protein behaves a little differently – it can’t be stored by our bodies. So if we want to increase our muscle mass to achieve a leaner physique and keep our metabolism revving, we need to top up our protein supplies every day.
The formula is approximately your body weight in kilograms x 0.8. For example, if you weigh 60kg, you’ll need 60 x 0.8, which equates to around 48g of protein a day.
Meat is your go-to source, but there are also loads of vegetarian-friendly options to help you build muscle mass.
We’re also not against protein powder, with a 30g serve giving most women half their daily required protein needs (plus they make a nifty post-gym snack too!). Look for organic powders without added nasties made from organic whey, or pea or brown rice for vegans.
|100g chicken or meat||22-25g|
|Half a cup soybeans||14g|
|200g yoghurt or 40g cheese||10g|
|1 cup dairy or soy milk||8.5g|
|1 cup cooked quinoa||8g|
|A quarter cup pumpkin seeds||8g|
|Half a cup legumes||8g|
|1 cup cooked rice||4g|
|30g serve of protein powder||26g|
When muscle gain is the goal, a little bit of food prep can ensure you’ve got lots of natural muscle-building snacks on hand at all times. At the start of the week, try poaching some chicken breasts, boiling eggs or grilling meats that you can keep in the fridge. These are great to add to lunchtime salads and sandwiches. For breakfast, try adding nuts and Greek yoghurt to your morning muesli, or topping your toast with salmon, ricotta or eggs.
Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, which means that calories from it tend to keep you feeling fuller longer than calories from carbohydrates… which can be very helpful when you’re trying to control your calorie intake and shift a few pesky kilos – yay!
Words by Melanie Katz